Friday, March 21, 2014

M. C. Escher Proves Me Wrong

I have a confession to make:

I've been lying.

Unintentionally, but still.

Let me give you some background:
Mathematics has always been a difficulty or me. I don't do well with numbers, and when algebra came along and added letters to the mix, it all went downhill for me. My senior year of high school was wonderful because I didn't take a math class!

Most people have found that either they are good at algebra and terrible at geometry, or the other way around. In my case, I'm a little better with geometry than algebra (though I still hate both). This semester I'm taking a geometry class to fill the math requirement for my degree. I'll be honest, this is one of the easier classes I've ever taken. That doesn't mean I enjoy it--no, it's still by far my least favorite class. Even worse than the public speaking class I had to take last semester! However, I do have a near-perfect grade and I'm coasting through the homework quite easily. (This is my first time having a perfect grade in math, so that's exciting).

(This is what I do in geometry class. It now covers the entire sheet of paper, and I'm just going back through it adding more and more details)

Alright, here's where the lie comes in. Everyone says I'm better at geometry because of my interest in art. And all along, I've insisted that art and geometry have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Yes, they both involve lines and shapes, but art goes so far beyond shapes! Art deals with color, texture, and meaning. Geometry is just logic applied to form and space. There is no color, texture, or meaning to geometry.

However, as I was looking at different artists and their work online, I stumbled upon the work of M. C. Escher. I'd seen some of his physically impossible images years before, but somehow I'd forgotten about them. So here's the truth:

M. C. Escher and geometry have everything to do with each other. While Escher had no formal mathematics education, his work is made up almost entirely of mathematical and geometric impossibilities. His knowledge was based on logic and his understanding was visual, but he knew full well what he was doing with optical illusions and geometric tricks in his lithographs. The man was brilliant.


And so there's my lie. Geometry and art do, in fact, have a connection: M. C. Escher.

But that doesn't mean I'm better at geometry simply because I happen to be able to make realistic drawings. And that doesn't mean I have to enjoy geometry!

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